COVID-19:  Cross country update (April 30, 2020)

30 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Stumpage Fees Deferred

To help the forestry sector through the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. Government is deferring stumpage, the fee operators pay the Province to harvest, buy or sell trees from Crown land, for three months.  The deferral with interest is available to Tree Farm Licence, Replaceable Forest Licence and First Nations’ Woodlands Licence holders who are in good financial standing with the Province. They must also be following through on their reforesting obligations.

Orders and Guidance

A reminder that the Provincial Health Office’s Orders, as well as Guidance issued by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the B.C. Ministry of Health can be found at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/covid-19-novel-coronavirus.  Guidance is available for specific sectors including the hotel sector, industrial camps, retail food and grocery stores, farms and farm workers, silviculture sector, manufacturing, construction sites, mining and smelting and so on.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Reopening Plan

The Alberta Government today outlined its staged COVID-19 relaunch plan, which will require careful and ongoing monitoring and will respect guidelines from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.  Where necessary, decisions will be applied at both provincial and local levels.

Early Actions

Early actions include:

  • Alberta Health Services will resume some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries as soon as May 4;
  • Starting May 4, dental and other health-care workers, such as physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians and more, will be allowed to resume services, as long as they are following approved guidelines set by their professional colleges;
  • Access to provincial parks and public lands will be re-opened using a phased approach, beginning with:
    • Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands opening May 1;
    • Opening a number of boat launches in provincial parks on May 1 and working to have them all open by May 14;
    • Working to make campsites available as soon as possible, with the goal to have as many open as possible by June 1, although group and comfort camping will not be offered and there may be restricted access to campground facility areas such as showers, picnic and cooking shelters;
    • Alberta Parks’ online reservation system will be available May 14 to book site visits beginning June 1, although out-of-province bookings will not be processed;
    • No washrooms or garbage pickup will be available within provincial parks at this time until Alberta Environment and Parks brings staff back;
    • Fire bans in parks, protected areas and the Forest Protection Area will remain in place;
    • Private and municipal campgrounds and parks can open with physical distancing restrictions, under their own local authority;
    • Golf courses can open on May 4, with restrictions including keeping clubhouses and pro shops closed; and
    • Updates can be found at albertaparks.ca.

Requirements to Move to Next Stages

Physical distancing requirements of two metres will remain in place through all stages of relaunch and hygiene practices will continue to be required of businesses and individuals, along with instructions for Albertans to stay home when exhibiting symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat.

Before moving to Stage 1, these safeguards must be in place:

  • Enhancing COVID-19 testing capacity at the highest level in Canada;
  • Robust and comprehensive contact tracing, aided by technology, to quickly notify people who may have been exposed;
  • Support for those who test positive for COVID-19, to enable isolation and effectively contain the spread;
  • Stronger international border controls and airport screening, especially for international travellers;
  • Rules and guidance for the use of masks in crowded spaces, especially on mass transit; and
  • Maintaining strong protections for the most vulnerable, including those in long-term care, continuing care and seniors lodges.

Progress to Stage 1 will occur once health measures are achieved to the satisfaction of the government based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, as early as May 14.

Stage 1

With increased infection prevention and controls to minimize the risk of increased transmission of infections, some businesses and facilities can start to gradually resume operations as early as May 14:

  • Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores;
  • Vendors at farmers markets;
  • Some personal services like hairstyling and barber shops;
  • Museums and art galleries;
  • More scheduled surgeries, dental procedures, physiotherapy, chiropractic, optometry and similar services;
  • Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy;
  • Summer camps with limits on occupancy, which could include summer school;
  • Cafés, restaurants (minors allowed in liquor licensed establishments) with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50% capacity; and
  • Some additional outdoor recreation.

Post-secondary institutions will continue to deliver courses, but whether these courses will be delivered online, in-person, or a blend of the two will depend on what restrictions remain in place.

The use of masks will be strongly recommended in certain specific crowded public spaces, like mass transit, that do not allow for physical distancing (two metres apart).  Engaging in non-essential travel, especially travel outside the province, is also not recommended.  As well, remote working is advised where possible.

The following is not permitted in Stage 1:

  • Gatherings of more than 15 people;
  • Arts and culture festivals, major sporting events, and concerts;
  • In-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students;
  • Movie theatres, theatres, pools, recreation centres, arenas, spas, gyms and nightclubs will remain closed; and
  • Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.

Stage 2

The timing of Stage 2 will be determined by the success of Stage 1, considering the capacity of the health-care system and continued limiting and/or reduction of the rate of infections, hospitalization and ICU cases.  Non-essential travel will still not be recommended.

Stage 2 will allow additional businesses and services to reopen and resume operations with two metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place including:

  • Potential kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions;
  • More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination;
  • Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage and reflexology;
  • Permitting of some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined) in some situations; and
  • Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.

The following is not permitted in Stage 2:

  • The opening of nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres, and arenas;
  • Arts and culture festivals, concerts, attendance at major sporting events and other mass gatherings; and
  • Visitors to patients at health-care facilities (subject to limited exceptions).

Stage 3

Timing of Stage 3 will be determined based on the success of Stages 1 and 2 and will involve:

  • Fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place;
  • Permitting larger gatherings (number of people to be determined);
  • Permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events with some restrictions;
  • Permitting nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen with restrictions;
  • Resuming industry conferences with restrictions; and
  • No restrictions on non-essential travel.

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Due to the emergency flooding situation, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has issued an exemption to the existing COVID-19 gathering restrictions and mandated physical distancing in outdoor spaces for persons engaged in flood suppression and prevention activities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.  It is recommended that these individuals wear personal protective equipment, if available.

Long-Term Care and Supportive Living

New public orders have been put in place to help with the continued protection of residents in long-term care and supportive living:

CMOH Order 12-2020

This order updates operational and outbreak standards to help ensure seniors and other vulnerable individuals living and working in long-term care and licensed supportive living facilities are kept as physically safe as possible.  The update includes:

  • Anyone with even the mildest symptoms must immediately be isolated and tested for COVID-19;
  • If a COVID-19 case is identified, all residents in the affected unit are to be tested, even if they show no symptoms; and
  • Any staff member caring for an isolated resident must wear eye protection, along with all other appropriate PPE, including a gown, mask, visor and gloves.

There is also new guidance to help support residents who wish to temporarily move into another setting like a family member’s home.

CMOH Order 14-2020

This order updates restrictions on visitors at long-term care and licensed supportive living facilities in Alberta, as follows:

  • Residents who are not in isolation can have outdoor visits with a designated essential visitor and one other person.  However, physical distancing measures must be followed and all visitors must wear a mask for face covering; and
  • Clarifications have been made to ensure that individuals who are dying are given the opportunity to have their loved ones at their side, while following guidelines to ensure safety.

CMOH Order 13-2020

This order updates operational and outbreak standards for residential addiction treatment service providers to help prevent the risk of infection, while allowing individuals to continue to receive treatment and overcome their addiction.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Support for Northern Saskatchewan

An updated health order has been issued further restricting travel for the Northern Saskatchewan Administrative District (NSAD), including:

  • Restricting all non-critical travel (including those with primary residences) into and out of the NSAD, as well as restricting all non-critical travel between northern communities.
  • Northern residents are ordered to remain in their local communities and to practice appropriate social distancing.  Exceptions will be made only for critical items like collecting groceries and medical appointments.
  • Travel related to the delivery of essential services will continue to be permitted.   For a complete list of approved travel visit: https://publications.saskatchewan.ca/#/products/104577.

The Province is also providing immediate funding of $370,000 targeted to combating COVID-19 in the NSAD.  As well, seasonal businesses, including northern outfitters, will be eligible for the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment.

Funding will help establish, staff and maintain community checkpoints as part of a recent public health order to address COVID-19 in the province’s far north and to support local public safety, food security and educational initiatives to encourage physical distancing and self-isolation of residents.

The Province also introduced amendments to the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment program that will ensure northern outfitters and businesses operating in provincial parks are eligible for grants up to $5,000.  The grants are paid based on 15% of a business’ monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000.

This is in addition to measures taken by the Ministry of Environment to waive lease fees for outfitters for the 2020 season and providing flexible licensing arrangements for those suspending outfitting activities.

A modified application will be available in the coming days and can be accessed by visiting saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.

Temporary Wage Supplement

Today, the government announced that essential workers at senior-care, group homes, childcare facilities, and emergency and transition shelters earning less than $2,500 per month will have their salaries topped up by a $400 per month temporary wage supplement. Essential workers such as caregivers, cooks and cleaners, both full-time and part-time, at these facilities are eligible.

The new wage supplement consists of a flat $400 per month benefit for up to 16 weeks (March 15 to July 4) for each eligible worker.  The application process for the supplement will be outlined in the coming days. The federal government will share the cost of the new wage supplement for a total cost of about $56 million.

Child Care

Today, the government announced that, as of May 4, anyone working now or returning to work under Phase I and Phase II of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan will have access to licensed child care services located within Saskatchewan schools.

The centres will continue to operate within the guidelines provided by the Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, which include a maximum of eight children per room along with increased sanitization measures.

In addition to the 47 school-based centres operating as a part of the reserved supply, approximately 350 non-school-based child care centres and homes continue to operate.  Parents can access the application form for in-school child care centres on the Government of Saskatchewan website at saskatchewan.ca/covid19-childcare.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Personal Care Homes

Public Health Orders restricting staff from working in more than one licensed personal care home will take effect May 1. The single-site restriction is intended to provide additional protection against the introduction and/or spread of the COVID-19 virus within personal care homes.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Workplace Safety Guidelines

In anticipation of reopening the provincial economy, the Ontario government today released workplace safety guidelines for employers with COVID-19 precautions, including sector-specific health and safety guidance.  Today’s guidelines provide direction to the manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service and the agricultural sectors.  They are in addition to the more than 60 guidelines previously developed for various sectors such as retail, health care, construction, transportation, police services, firefighters, and transit employees.

These guidelines can also offer helpful direction to employers with operations in other Canadian jurisdictions and can be found at the Government of Ontario’s website: Health and Safety Association Guidance Documents for Workplaces During the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Trucking

To help keep truck drivers safe, fed and rested during COVD-19, the government is offering a new free 511 app which includes up-to-date highway information on construction, collisions and road closures, and identifies open rest areas and locations throughout the province that offer food and fuel. The app includes an easy to use map view and a drive mode that provides hands free audio alerts.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Public Health Emergency

On April 29, 2020, the government of Québec renewed the public health emergency throughout Québec for an additional ten days, until May 6, 2020.

Addiction Supports

On April 30, 2020, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Ms. Danielle McCann, announced $3 million in emergency assistance for community or private organizations offering addiction accommodation. This support will help cover the excess costs generated by the pandemic, particularly for increased surveillance, improved sanitary maintenance and disinfection, the purchase of sanitary equipment, the hiring of additional resources, the payment of overtime and the increased costs related to feeding people in shelters.

Health Services Fund

On April 30, 2020, the Government of Quebec announced that it will give employers, who are eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and who have an establishment in Quebec, a credit on contributions to the Health Services Fund for employees on forced leave. This measure will be in effect for the duration of the wage subsidy, which is currently from March 15 to June 6, 2020, or twelve weeks.

The government of Québec anticipates that this measure will amount to $113 million for the fiscal years 2020-2021. For more information, the Minister of Finance has issued an information bulletin to this effect available here: http://www.finances.gouv.qc.ca/documents/Bulletins/en/BULEN_2020-7-a-b.pdf.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Urgences de santé publique

Le 29 avril 2020, le gouvernement du Québec a renouvelé l’état d’urgence sanitaire sur tout le territoire québécois, et ce, pour une période additionnelle de dix jours, soit jusqu’au 6 mai 2020.

Services d’aide aux toxicomanes

Le 30 avril 2020, la ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux, madame Danielle McCann, a annoncé une aide d’urgence de 3 millions de dollars pour les ressources communautaires ou privées offrant de l’hébergement en dépendance. Ce soutien permettra de couvrir les frais excédentaires engendrés par la pandémie, notamment pour l’accroissement de la surveillance, le rehaussement de l’entretien sanitaire et la désinfection, l’achat de matériel sanitaire, l’embauche de ressources additionnelles, le paiement de temps supplémentaire ainsi que pour l’augmentation des coûts liés à l’alimentation des personnes hébergées.

Fonds des services de soins de santé

Le 30 avril 2020, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé qu’il accordera aux employeurs, qui peuvent bénéficier de la Subvention salariale d’urgence du Canada et qui ont un établissement au Québec, un crédit sur les cotisations au Fonds des services de santé pour les employés en congé forcé. Cette mesure sera en vigueur toute la durée de la subvention salariale, qui est actuellement du 15 mars au 6 juin 2020, soit douze semaines.

Le gouvernement du Québec anticipe qu’il s’agit d’une mesure qui se chiffre à 113 millions de dollars pour l’exercice 2020-2021. Pour en savoir plus, le ministère des Finances a émis un bulletin d’information à cet effet disponible ici : http://www.finances.gouv.qc.ca/documents/Bulletins/fr/BULFR_2020-7-f-b.pdf.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Reopening Plan

Effective April 30, the government announced the province’s plan for living with COVID-19. The plan includes five alert levels. Depending on which level the province is in, as determined by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health restrictions will be gradually relaxed. The province is currently in Alert Level 5. Effective immediately, households may now spend time with one other household bubble. People should not have close contact with anyone else outside the two household bubble. If someone is working and out in the public, people should be cautious about who is in their bubble, so as not to increase the risk to a vulnerable individual.

Based on the assessment of the relevant factors, on Monday, May 11, 2020, the province will move to Alert Level 4. A complete list of the services and activities permitted during all alert levels will be available at gov.nl.ca/covid-19/. A Business Response Team has been established to support businesses as they prepare to re-open. Businesses who have questions will be able to email covid19info@gov.nl.ca or call 1-833-771-0696 beginning 12:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, May 1).

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

On May 4, the government will launch a virtual job-matching platform to connect New Brunswickers with positions that, in the past, have been filled by temporary foreign workers. It is anticipated there will be up to 600 jobs in sectors such as agriculture and aquaculture.

Effective April 30, the provincial government renewed the state of emergency under the Emergency Measures Act until May 14. Revisions made to the order include:

  • All licences, registrations, certificates and permits issued under provincial laws that were valid as of March 16, previously extended to May 31, have been extended again to June 30. Many renewals can be done online at snb.ca.
  • A new paragraph has been added to authorize municipal councils and council committees to hold more meetings electronically. The Local Governance Act normally limits councillors’ participation electronically rather than in person.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

On April 30, the province outlined plans for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. While home-based learning will continue to be the main learning model, school-based learning will resume for some individuals, including students who currently receive individualized educational supports. Beginning May 11, several designated schools will open to some students who currently receive individualized supports from educational assistants and youth service workers. These students will return to their designated school for part of the day where they will be supported by their Student Services Team. All school-based services must follow public health guidelines that allow for physical distancing, hygiene protocols and the proper cleaning of schools. School bus services will not be available; however, alternative transportation arrangements will be made for families who are unable to transport their child to and from school.

As of April 28, long-haul truck drivers who reside in PEI are being tested for COVID-19 at the Confederation Bridge.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

On April 30, Nunavut confirmed its first case of COVID-19. As a result, all passenger travel in and out of Pond Inlet has ceased. This includes any movement in or out of the community by land travel. This travel ban is a necessary containment measure to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spreading to multiple communities at once.

 

Miller Thomson is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation to ensure that we provide our clients with appropriate support in this rapidly changing environment. For articles, information updates and firm developments, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page.

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